Tereza Vanisova scored midway through overtime to give the Toronto Six their first Isobel Cup title with a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Whitecaps.
The goal capped a thrilling final that was the first to feature two expansion franchises in the eighth PHF season. It marked Toronto’s first championship in its third campaign after reaching the semifinals in each of the previous two years.
Both teams had numerous chances in the three-on-three overtime, including breakaways and odd-man rushes. Like most of those chances, the winning goal came on a turnover as Vanisova retrieved the puck in the corner and walked out to the front of the net before clinching the title for her team.
Vanisova was named player of the game while Toronto’s Michela Cava was named MVP.
“I’m so proud of the girls, just to see them accomplish this goal it’s unbelievable,” head coach Geraldine Heaney said.
“This has been three years in the making of where we’re at now,” captain Shiann Darkangelo said. “I’m super excited and proud of the group that’s been here and the girls that have been a part of it to bring the Isobel Cup back to Toronto.”
The game, which was played at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Ariz., was a tug-of-war battle with both teams grabbing the lead at different points.
The Six broke the ice in the opening frame with their first shot of the game. Cava, who was celebrating her 29th birthday, found Dominika Laskova with a backhand pass who netted her first goal of the playoffs.
The Whitecaps took advantage of a failed defensive clearance behind the Toronto net to level the score at 4:02 of the second period. Minnesota centre Brittyn Fleming intercepted the puck, rounded the net and beat Six goalie Elaine Chuli with a wrister.
Chuli redeemed herself just over three minutes later by denying Denisa Krizova on a breakaway with a pad save, keeping the score at 1-1.
The Six thanked their goalie with a second goal. Emma Woods shocked Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille, who was out of her net to retrieve the puck, by rushing to it first and located Breanne Wilson-Bennett who tapped in her first of the playoffs.
Minnesota’s Brooke Madsen redirected Natalie Snodgrass’ shot from the right faceoff circle to tie the game up 2-2 by the end of the second period.
The Whitecaps took their first lead of the game on the power play 20 seconds into the final frame. Snodgrass rushed along the boards and then found Jonna Albers who beat Chuli with a wrist shot above the glove.
Albers’ playoff-leading fifth goal was also her 15th career post-season point, which tied Boston forward Jillian Dempsey’s PHF record.
But the Six didn’t give up and Woods tied the final again after Taylor Woods tapped in a loose puck in the Whitecaps crease at 7:56 of the third.
The win marks the first time since 2017-18 that a professional hockey team based in the Greater Toronto Area has won a championship. That season the AHL’s Toronto Marlies won the Calder Cup and the Markham Thunder won a Clarkson Cup title in the now-defunct CWHL.
While the Six will celebrate under the warm sun of Arizona, Heaney said they can’t wait to bring the party back home to their fans.
“It’s going to be amazing, maybe we’ll have a big parade in Toronto,” the coach said. “That will give the young girls in Toronto something to dream about as well.”